Ask the Indy: What’s the deal with the Recall Polis campaign?

Dismiss Polis had a booth at Friday's Western Conservative Summit in Denver (Photo by Alex Burness)

A reader who identified herself only as Karen recently asked The Indy to write some balanced coverage on the effort to recall Gov. Jared Polis, who was elected just six months ago. It’s unclear what Karen finds problematic in the coverage. She didn’t reply to our emails asking for more detail and we were unable to track her down. 

But the facts are pretty straightforward and we’ll recap them here for you. 

On Monday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office approved the petition from a group calling itself “Dismiss Polis.” The group now faces what is widely seen as the near-impossible task of gathering more than 631,00 valid signatures or 25% of the total ballots cast in last November’s gubernatorial race — by Sept. 6. 

Put another way, if the recall backers started gathering signatures on Monday, they need to gather more than 10,000 valid voter signatures every day to meet the threshold. 

“A herculean task,” Karen Kataline, the group’s media spokeswoman, acknowledged in a conversation with The Indy this week. Kataline said the recall attempt will go on anyway, citing anger and frustration at the leftward, “progressive” tilt of the recent legislative session, including bills signed by Polis.

Among the bills stirring the group’s ire:

  • SB 19-042: Changes the way Colorado’s nine electors cast their ballots by binding them to the winner of the national popular vote winner, rather than the winner of the popular vote in Colorado. 
  • SB 19-181: Tightens regulations on oil and gas, giving local governments more control and mandating the state elevate public health and safety considerations over economic development. 
  • HB 19-1032: Creates new education requirements, such as the teaching of consent, in comprehensive sexual education in schools. It also prohibits the emphasis on abstinence as the sole preventable method, among other requirements.
  • HB 19-1177: Extreme Risk Protection Order, better known as the “Red Flag Bill,” which allows for the temporary seizure of an individual’s firearms if that individual is seen as a threat to themselves or others. 

“You’ve got extremely progressive and radical positions that are going to change Colorado forever and basically turn it into California,” Kataline said. “And people are up in arms about it.”

“We want to offer the people of Colorado an opportunity to have a voice and to have a vote in the direction that Colorado is going to go,” Kataline said.  

In response, Conor Cahill, Polis’s press secretary, said in an email that during his first six months in office, the governor has “created bipartisan solutions to lower the cost of health care, ensure every kid can go to free full-day kindergarten this fall, and cut taxes for small businesses.”

“The Governor will continue to reach across the aisle and hopes that, by tackling key issues for Coloradans, we will continue to bring people together and focus on what unites us,” Cahill wrote. 

Dismiss Polis seeks to gather 900,000 signatures, almost a full 300,000 over the minimum, in case some of the signatures are deemed invalid and disallowed. 

“You’ve got extremely progressive and radical positions that are going to change Colorado forever and basically turn it into California. And people are up in arms about it.”

-Karen Kataline, Dismiss Polis Spokesperson

No recall petition has ever received over 600,000 signatures in Colorado. Serena Woods, communications director for the secretary of state, said the most signatures ever received for a recall petition was 212,332 against Amendment 75, the Campaign Contribution Limits Initiative.

“We’ll watch it, you’ll watch it, and we will see if it can be done,” Kataline said. “The people doing it really believe they can do it. And even if they can’t doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try.”

Since being approved on Monday, the group has moved into petition-signing mode, with locations across Colorado. Dismiss Polis plans to distribute 15,000 packets with over one million signature lines across Colorado’s 64 counties over the next week. The signing of these petitions will be handled by volunteers, something that Kataline said is a significant help to the cost of this operation. 

The petition drive is being paid for by donors, she said. From June 17 to June 27, Dismiss Polis raised $20,325 from 26 contributors across Colorado, according to campaign finance filings. Contributions came from those reporting working in agriculture, real estate, business and medicine. The highest contribution came from Michael Brownell from Fleming, who donated $4,500. Brownell could not be reached for comment. 


  1. I see a Facebook post from Americans For Prosperity, the SuperPAC largely funded by the uber-rich and conservative Koch brothers. The post I see opposes ballot issue CC, the ballot initiative that would remove caps on TABOR. From the tone of of the comments, I believe the Koch brothers are behind the recalls too.

  2. Good grief. Do these people not understand how Democracy works? Yes, I know they were successful in getting legislators recalled in the past, but that doesn’t mean the process of recalls based on legislation you don’t like is okay. That is precisely why we have elections. Republicans should save the fury and their money and run better candidates in lawful elections. I’m just appalled that our constitution allows this kind of activity.

  3. Actually, I’m not sure that they do understand how Democracy works. Their leader — Donald Trump– doesn’t understand, as demonstrated by his continuous, self-serving attempts to over-ride Congressional and Supreme Court actions. He wants unlimited power,crucial to his hobbled ego. His followers need to be heard on gun control, abortion, climate change, global political relations.
    But they need to understand that although they have a right to hold those views, the majority of their neighbors do not. We need to stop talking past one another and to really listen to one another,not to our echo chambers!

  4. In the unlikely event the Polis recall succeeds, I will initiate a recall of the recall, and if that succeeds, I will recall that recall as well. Grrr, get off a my recall. Double grrr.

  5. Recalling elected officials is part of democracy and has been around since Athenian democracy. Athenian democracy is known as the worlds first form of democracy. One could say that recalls are as old as democracy itself. I like the idea that we can use democracy to make decisions and then use democracy again if we decide that it was the wrong decision. It seems logical to me. No need to worry about the Polis recall. If you like our governor, don’t sign the petition. Simple.

  6. Although I’m sure some people don’t want a gay governor, I would have to guess that way of thinking for the majority of our population is not an issue. I say this because I hear people talk about recalling the governor and of all the reasons I have yet to hear being gay as one of them. Everyone knew Polis was married to a man when he was voted in office. Electing a gay governor then recalling a gay governor simply for being gay would not be inline with the idea of a recall at all. Electing a governor (gay, not gay, black, white, latino, man, woman, tall, short, skinny, overweight) and then deciding it was a bad idea for reasons such as our states economy and the rights of our people could be in jeopardy sound more like a realistic reason to recall. I like to think of it as hiring someone to do a job than firing them for not performing the way you thought.

  7. You seem to be lumping anyone who wants to recall our state governor into a Donald Trump follower. They are not one and the same. Our state is made up of citizens who have different beliefs and views than one another. Sometimes those beliefs and views will be different than yours. Is it okay to only hear words of beliefs and views that you agree with but not okay to hear beliefs and views that are different than yours? Trying to better understand why someone would have a different opinion than you (perspective) is essential to human progression in our society. Blindly following a belief or idea without looking deeply at the other perspective can be dangerous. We can’t all have the same beliefs. We are raised in different environments, different parts of the state, work in different fields and have different life experiences that help shape what we believe and who we are. Ken Stern (CEO of NPR) and his research would be a perfect example of what I’m trying to describe here.

  8. What does that have to do with it? I didn’t know he was gay until I read this. Before you go assuming. I’m an unaffiliated voter. I didn’t vote for people in the last election. Just voted on the amendments and proposals. I haven’t voted for people in office since Ross Perot. Mainly because I believe my vote doesn’t count. And most elected officials are shady. You just don’t get to that level of politics with out being unethical.

    I don’t pay much attention to politics or public office at all. But i do know that a lot of Colorado citizens are pretty upset with the way things have gone in the past few months. I am tired of Denver choosing what they think is right for the whole state. It seams they forget about the other 90% of Colorado. I just spent a few weeks in Steamboat and a vast majority of the locals are flat out pissed what’s going on since the last election.

  9. BS…they – the lib Dems promoted him that way…when is the last time you stood up anywhere and blurted out your sexuality.. nobody discriminated against his stupid assed personal promoted perdonal public declarations, it is his against the Co and US Constitutional executive “shove that down your throat bull” that has the entire state up arms…try not to be so obviously stupid…

  10. We get it, you’re upset the Democrat won. I guess next time you’ll have to run someone with better ideas.

  11. A recall effort against the governor is NOT a fool’s errand! What better way to identify your 2020 election base than asking them to provide their names and addresses in advance? Now they have a list of voters to whom they can send mass mailings first asking for political donations and later asking for votes. Many phone numbers are available online to add to the database. And…such a database can be worth lots of money to a wide variety of groups. These petition organizers and their hidden donors are smart; those who casually sign such petitions are not. They add their names to the huge political information database that manipulates them later.

  12. Rich, I’ve got news for you, the USA is a Democratic Republic. A democratic republic is a form of government operating on principles adopted from a republic and a democracy. Rather than being a cross between two entirely separate systems, democratic republics may function on principles shared by both republics and democracies.

  13. This effort highlights the need to change the rules for recalls. Not liking legislation that has passed is not good enough. And attempting to recall someone only in office for 6 months is ridiculous unless they have been convicted of malfeasance/misfeasance in office. The majority elected Polis and he is entitled to serve his term of office. The minority can campaign to become the majority and vote him out when his term ends. That’s how democracy works. I recommend the next legislative session change the requirements for recalls. Some states don’t even have recall laws. I hope this current effort fails.

  14. “It’s unclear what Karen finds problematic in the coverage.”

    golly, maybe it is because you are intentionally not covering the fact that you have a governor colluding with other governors to violate Constitutional law?

    “problematic” indeed

  15. He ran as a Democrat with a progressive agenda and apparently most Coloradans (as do most Americans) approved. Sounds like a case of being a sore loser. Get over it and try again in the next scheduled election…

  16. There’s a big outcry of stupidity from the right. I’ve seen lots of old people sitting in lawn chairs outside of supermarkets trying to get people to “keep the Electoral College”. What person in their right mind thinks an entity that denies you your vote is a good thing to keep other than racists? And why do these idiots think it’s going anywhere in the first place? Now those people are being replaced with the Recall Polis effort. I love how the right, represented by a president who has made it known he would sleep with his own daughter, can claim any moral high ground. Your churches foment hate and racism, your leaders are disgusting sexual predators and thieves, and none of them would pee on your if you were on fire.

  17. Why recall Polis? Because he has signed new laws into effect with full knowledge that they run counter to the US and State Constitution.
    1. Red Flag – ignites basic rights of due process, presumption of innocence, ability to face your accuser.
    2. National Popular Vote – eliminates and overturns Colorado’s electoral college vote and results. Defeats the purpose of the Great Compromise of 1787 which was instrumental to the establishment of the US Government. Principle of 50 separate State level elections for President invalidated.
    3. Violated the will of the Colorado electorate by signing new laws to “reform” oil and gas industry after the citizenry rejected proposed State Constitutional Amendment.
    4. Signed legislation establishing full day kindergarten w/o identifying a funding mechanism/source. Colorado Constitution requires a balanced budget.

    These are actions Polis has taken in his first year in office. Colorado cannot accept 3 more years of illegalities. Polis is against TABOR and is seeking and supports ways to overturn it.

  18. One word: democracy. Not liking our governor especially if we didn’t vote for said governor doesn’t make somebody a sore loser. Its standing up for what you believe, my family is oil and gas through and through. Why wait when you can stand up and take back what you believe in don’t be a sore loser because we don’t lie down and take it.

  19. So what your saying is your ideals and thoughts are more important then the voting population. You didn’t vote for him but the majority of Colorado did. So, since you were outvoted by your piers, you think you get to stand up and take what you want instead of listening to the consensus majority? You tried to hide your comment under the guise of democracy, but democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation involving periodically held free elections. Your type of blatant disregard for your fellow citizens and their votes is a horrible way to go through life.

  20. Lucy-do you have any documented proof of your allegation? That’s the issue, people try to recognize the problem with conspiracy theories rather than documented facts.

  21. Two word. SORE LOSERS. He was elected by the majority of voters in Colorado. CONservatives are the enemy of democracy and decency.

  22. No matter if they get the signatures or not, they will at the very least raise major awareness of the problems Polis is bringing to our state.

  23. You, Joseph, are seriously brain damaged. But you are a progressive and we all understand. Poor thing!

  24. Only Republicans are so arrogant that they can claim Constitutional objections in legislative actions. Well sue away guys.

    The facts sound just right to me. The things missing so far have to do with more and stronger gun regulation like total elimination of AK 47s and AR 15s. At the expense of the taxpayers we had a recall not long ago of legislators who sponsored successful bills concerning background checks and massive . One of the legislators was standing for re-election not very long after the recall but recall was the preferred course. The bills passed and are law. Sue away guys. Keep this mess going or get your thinking straightened out. There are lots of intelligent and thoughtful people who do not agree with your interpretation of the facts or you pronouncements about the Constitution.

    Why would you ever have thought Polis was going to be a Governor who signed bills the Republican right favored? Not in this day of tribalism. Maybe you expected a Governor who did nothing.

  25. That thing about recalling because of a dislike of the legislation without more is definitely and desperately needed in Colorado. These right wing people are taking advantage of our recall systems to spread hate and distrust of the “others” who are successful. Someone at Safeway wanted me to sign a petition. “For what?”, I asked. “Recall!”, was the answer. I said no without even knowing who since there has been no credible evidence of corruption that I am aware of.

    So, I am with you Mary Ann. I’ll contact my legislators. I suppose that will result in another recall effort against them if they are successful in doing what I ask of them.

  26. If you are approached by someone wanting you to sign your name to a card to be sent to JENA GRISWOLD
    COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE do not sign the card. It gives Griswold, a DemocRAT, the authority to take your name off of any petition she does not agree with. The scam they try to pull is they claim that a lot of signatures are being forged on the recall petitions that are circulating in Colorado including the one to recall Governor Polis, and by signing the card, which is sent to Griswold, it gives her the right to remove you name from any petition where she “thinks” your signature has been forged. So if you have signed the card, she can remove you name from any of these recall petitions you have signed. More of the slimy DemocRATs tricks to stay in power.
    If you wish to sign the petition to recall Gov. Polis, the following web site will show the businesses where you can sign. Polis has signed a bill to give away Colorado’s electoral votes to which ever candidate wins the popular vote, which the DemocRATs stack by allowing illegal aliens and dead people to vote, thus disenfranchising every Republican or any other voter who does not vote DeomcRAT.

  27. wouldn’t that be called an Election? perhaps they should have run a better candidate.

    As a Polis supporter, an all day kindergarten supporter, a comprehensive and fact based sex education supporter, an environmental impact supporter, a lower cost insurance health premium supporter, i agree that the Governor’s sexuality is not the reason. I have friends that support the recall. Most weren’t even aware he is gay. They haven’t read a single bill that has passed. They don’t know who they want instead. They are completely uninformed and “just don’t like the guy” or ” I’ve heard he is against oil and gas” is the best they can do. This is the best response given when an honest and sincere question of Why is asked.

    What they don’t like is change. They continue to feel “slighted” by Murica and fear they are somehow losing power and control. What they don’t realize is that its too late.

  28. RIGHT. But you’re all for Two Scoops and the way he’s “showing them what’s what”, aren’t you? Funny how when a republican is running roughshod over everone and everything and destroying what makes life worth living in this counry, that’s just fine. But let a democrat come in and actually make things BETTER for the majority of us rather than just the 1% and you’re up in arms about it. Funny how the things that you don’t like “being shoved own your throat” are things that work for the majority, but the tings YOU are MORE than willing to shove down OUR throats are things that the MINORITY of MINORITIES, the 1%, dream about. Why do you righties want to support them at the point of your own detriment? THEY AIN’T HELPING YOU! Why are you SO insistent on helping THEM? THEY DON’T NEED your help. Stop giving it to them and worry about YOUR OWN life for a freaking change.

  29. That’s nice, but you’re preaching to the wrong choir. It’s the repblicans who are in on the”we can all be individuals as long as we all do it together” bandwagon. Democrats are the ones who at least TALK about allowing others into their ranks. The republicans have been the party of foolish old white people for at least a generation, now, because no young people with ANY brains would join up with them. And with GOD reason. Young people aren’t stupid.

    Look at ANY republican rally, especially a Two Scoops rally. Who do you see there? White people and that ONE black guy who i swear is being paid to be there every time. But do you see ANY minorities? Or do you see a bunch of white people whining about minorities? ESPECIALLY in a Two Scoops debacle.

    You need to tell the republicans that we aren’t all a homogeneous, white Anglo nation, never really have been. We started off as a melting pot, and have been one ever since. Or at least, we TRY to be one. And as long as the righties AREN’T in charge, we can come close. THEY are who need the lesson.

  30. Well, THERE’S a pithy and fact filled argument. Got ANYTHING to say that isn’t just an outright insult for the sake of being insulting? Sorry, but that is NOT a worthy comment to ANYTHING. Please, tell us HOW it is that he’s SO wrong, don’t just sit there like a damn REPUBLICAN, tell us WHY he is wrong. But you CAN’T, can you? ALL you on the right have is anger and hatred. It shows with EVERY comment you on the right make. There is NO substance, just insults. Pretty pathetic, and if you want, two can play a that game. I could slander you with JUST as much sense as you are making in your post, but that would get us nowhere. Just like YOUR post did. SUBSTANCE is something one cannot accuse the right of having.

    We get it, you don’t LIKE the progressive part of this country. But we aren’t going away any more than YOU are. Better get used to it and start elevating your debating skills. A response of “well, aren’t YOU stupid” only works if you’re a lamebrained, shit eating MORON who can fool 1/3 of the population at any given time. For the rest of you, it just makes you look foolish and stupid. Funny, the scum bag you follow looks that way to those who can THINK past a 2nd grade level, too.

  31. Like what? Responsibility and concern for the lives of actual CITIZENS and not the Koch brothers? God, you righties just AMAZE me at what you think constitutes a problem.

  32. Maybe because you’re a damn LUNATIC. Like pretty much everyone else in your party, now. What the hell is WRONG with you people?

  33. just because someone was elected by voters doesn’t mean they can’t hold the elected to a standard….or hold him accountable if he deviates from what he portrayed himself as during his campaign. The enemy of democracy is those who wish to rule over it….take away individual’s power/rights/autonomy.

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